VP Corporate Relations, the CBSL group of companies and former national president of the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), Ajai Kumar Agarwal was heading Corporate Communications of Central Bank of India before retirement. He is an advisor SME Chamber of India and was a keynote speaker at international conference on Media held in Rome. He has delivered many Radio talks and participated in various discussions on TV. He is a visiting guest faculty to Osmania university, Rajasthan and Agra university besides Rotary club, Lions Club, Jaycees, BHEL, Ministry of Information & Public Relations, SBI RD institute Hyderabad etc. He was UP state Hockey player and is a qualified Hockey umpire. He is recipient of Indira Gandhi National Integration Award, Unity Award, Kamal Patra Award, Hall of Fame, National Award for Most Promising PR Person of the year, Outstanding LOM President Award by Jaycees to name a few.
PR is one of the most maligned professions. Your take.
It is not something new. Our critics have always flayed us with criticism using terms like ‘PR stunt’; ‘PR ploy’; ‘PR exercise’; ‘Spin doctors’; ‘Public relations is organized lying’; and ‘Public relations ethics is an oxymoron.’ Some of the problems arise because public relations is an umbrella term. Most high-profile problems relating to the profession originate from non-members of public relations professional bodies. These people can legitimately engage in public relations as they see fit. Our profession is vulnerable because many practitioners are merely technicians or implementers – messengers for the management of the organization or client. The PR persons in these situations have no authority over what they do; they are merely mouthpieces for other people who may or may not be ethical. However, the PR practitioners are held responsible by recipients for the messages they disseminate.
Reporters continually complain about the multitudinous times PR people have sent them un-newsworthy rubbish?
It is because they didn’t know better or they allowed their employer or client to pressure them into knowingly sending unsuitable and untargeted information. You may say ethics are all very well, but I need to get on with the real work. However, you may not realize how many ethical decisions are needed almost every day in PR work. However, I feel media and PR professionals are twins.
Do you find a generation gap between the older and younger professionals?
See, this gap was always there and will always be there. It’s natural. With the advent of technology the way PR is being conducted has changed. The younger generation is more adept in using the social media to build public relations professionally as well as personally.
You have a new outfit – International Chamber of Public Relations. What is its objective?
I have been associated with various organizations in a leadership position, but I missed at times the freedom to employ some innovative ideas. So I formed International Chamber of Public Relations (ICPR). ICPR is established to enrich professional development and networking opportunities for higher standards by holding conventions both global and national, seminars at regular intervals through its chapters in India and abroad.
What is your advice to young professionals?
First of all ensure you bring ethics into your PR activities. Try to bring innovative ideas on the table which is practical as well as scalable. Don’t ignore the traditional media as it has its own impact in rural areas. The technology has not touched in a similar way the lives of people living in Bharat. I do work with a difference. Once I take any responsibility I do justice. I don’t compromise on the quality. That’s all it needs to be a successful PR person.